Guest Columns

WASDEN: PRIMARY MISSION IS JOB CREATION

Export-Import Bank is vital, necessary for continued growth and prosperity

GUEST COLUMNIST

Too often, politics hamper the ability of businesses to expand and put Americans to work. What used to be an important bipartisan reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank has now fallen firmly in the crosshairs of some members of the GOP. Charges of crony capitalism and big governmental overreach flow freely from opposition tongues. “Let the private sector fill that space in the market. Those big companies don’t need the Ex-Im Bank, they can get capital on their own,” scream critics. While I can appreciate the basis for their argument, their facts on this issue are off base and in some cases, just flat out wrong.

While numerous presidents have lauded the successes of the Ex-Im Bank, I want to quote two former U.S. Presidents for context:

President Ronald Reagan, January 30, 1984: “In order for the United States to maintain its strong position in foreign markets, it is important that the Congress pass the Export-Import Bank bill and avoid attaching unnecessary encumbrances.”

President George W. Bush, June 14, 2002: “I have today signed into law S. 1372, the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2002. This legislation will ensure the continued effective operation of the Export-Import Bank, which helps advance U.S. trade policy, facilitate the sale of U.S. goods and services abroad, and create jobs here at home.”

The Ex-Im Bank’s primary mission is American jobs. By financing the export of American goods and services, the Ex-Im Bank has supported 1.2 million private-sector American jobs — 205,000 in 2013 alone. This April, the United States exported $193.3 billion of goods and services according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the U.S. Commerce Department. Exports of goods and services over the last year totaled $2.3 trillion, which is 45.1 percent above the level of exports in 2009, and have been growing at an annualized rate of 9.0 percent when compared to the 2009 level.

In fiscal year 2013, Ex-Im Bank approved more than $27 billion in total authorizations. For the year, the Ex-Im Bank approved 3,413 transactions for small business. Of the total number of transactions approved just last year, 89 percent were for small business, the backbone of American Main Street economies. While critics tend to overlook this important fact, the disparity in the total number of transactions for big and small business make the argument for reauthorization even stronger.

For those that do not understand the composition of the Ex-Im Bank, it is an independent, self-sustaining agency that fills in the gaps in private export financing at no cost to American taxpayers. It is the official export credit agency of the U.S. The Bank provides a variety of financing mechanisms including working-capital guarantees, export-credit insurance, and financing to help foreign buyers purchase U.S. goods and services. In the past five years, the Bank has earned $2 billion more than the cost of its operations and after covering loan loss reserves. That is money that is put in the Treasury to help reduce the federal deficit.

The Ex-Im Bank does not compete against the private sector but acts as a complimentary player. While they work to fill in the gaps through loans, guarantees, and insurance programs, the private sector lenders are Ex-Im Bank partners. During the FY 2013, 98 percent of the Ex-Im Bank’s transactions involved commercial banks.

How does Colorado benefit from the Ex-Im Bank? Since 2007, 93 Colorado exporters have used the Ex-Im — 68 of those exporters are small businesses. International trade (both exports and imports) supports 680,000 Colorado jobs. These jobs are related to both large and small companies from farms to factories to headquarters of Colorado’s globally engaged firms. Colorado alone exports tens of billions of dollars in goods and services annually. Exports have been shipped to 210 countries with top countries like Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, China and Mexico. Today, more than one in five jobs depend on international trade!

Rhetoric is tossed around. A few members of Congress have made “killing” the Ex-Im Bank one of their priorities, but I feel we must hold politicians to the same standard as they ask us to do as citizens — to look at the facts and make an informed decision. Money returned to the Treasury, supporting and growing U.S. jobs, helping manufacturing and other key industries remain viable in America and putting Americans to work. From companies big and small, from the rural farmlands to high rise corporate America, the Ex-Im Bank has been a vital and necessary tool for continued growth and prosperity. Why cut off one of the most efficient, low risk, successful programs that contributes to the “jobs, jobs, jobs” focus that is so important to both political parties?

Please let your member of Congress know that you support continued American prosperity, increased opportunities to promote and sell goods and services and a program that lets the world stage know that the U.S. is open for business.

This is one program that businesses of all sizes and citizens from differing political affiliations should stand together with locked arms and tout the ongoing success and viability of; a program that has carved into the debt while at the same time supporting working families all across this great nation. Let’s not say we are open for business and then shut down one of the tools that help grow our economy. I urge all members of Congress to look at the proposed changes and to make the right choice for American business and reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.

Jeff Wasden is president of the Colorado Business Roundtable. He can be reached at jwasden@cobrt.com.